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Champions League Final: Riding on top form, Man City, Inter chase European glory

IANS | June 09, 2023 04:35 PM

ISLAMABAD: Pep Guardiola's Manchester City have some unfinished business to settle when they take on Inter Milan of Italy in the final of the 2022-23 edition of the UEFA Champions League here on Saturday.

City have never won the title in the history of the tournament and their best performance was finishing runner-up to fellow-English club Chelsea in the 2020-21 edition. Inter on the other hand have the title thrice and will be looking to reclaim it for the fourth time in the match to be played at the Atatrk Olympic Stadium, Istanbul, Turkey.

With their cash-rich owners from the Gulf region pumping in huge funds, City had roped in Guardiola, the former Barcelona boss, to win the Champions League in 2016. Guardiola has guided them to five domestic titles but failed to win the coveted Champions League.

This season, City are in sight of a treble having won the Premier League and FA Cup titles and are now looking forward to the clash at Atatrk Olympic Stadium for arguably the most memorable final of them all.

City have been banging on the door for some time now, but this is just their second final and they are yet to break their duck. Coach Pep Guardiola, meanwhile, is looking to join the elite group of three-time winners, having previously lifted the trophy in 2009 and 2011, and also become only the sixth man to win it with two clubs.

"When you reach the final of the Champions League, you have to celebrate. A final against an Italian team is not always the best gift, honestly. Inter are competitive. After this [semifinal] victory there will be a lot of compliments, but we have time to prepare mentally, " said Guardiola ahead of the summit clash.

City reached the final by beating Real Madrid, the most successful team in the Champions League, 5-1 on aggregate while Inter got the better of cross-town rivals AC Milan 3-0.

While Cith have had a superb and successful season so far with triumphs in Premier League and FA Cup, Inter finished third in Serie A but won the Coppa Italia by beating Fiorentina in the final. They are hoping to claim their first European success under Simone Inzaghi.

The Nerazzuri boast some familiar faces in the form of ex-Premier League stars Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Romelu Lukaku, as well as City legend Edin Dzeko. Inter last won the Champions League in 2009-10 under Jose Mourinho after back-to-back titles in 1963-64, 1964-65.

"For us, it was a dream but we have always believed in it. I'm proud to be here. Nobody has given us anything, we deserve everything that we have achieved. And now the dream to play the final has come true. It has been an extraordinary path and winning a derby in the semifinal brought particular satisfaction, " said current coach Simone Inzaghi.

The two teams will be playing for the UEFA Champions League trophy, which stands 73.5cm tall and weighs 7.5kg.

"It may not be an artistic masterpiece, but everybody in football is keen to get their hands on it, " said creator Jurg Stadelmann.

The 2022/23 winners are also assured of a place in the 2023/24 Champions League group stage if they have not qualified via their domestic competition.

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